Fan Scene - CT 1983 #1

Things had changed a lot in the DWAS by the time the anniversary year of 1983 began. The Society was now nearly seven years old and its newsletter CT had moved on from the fannish enthusiasm which earlier editors had deployed. It was now very much a factual newsletter albeit one that showed just how much activity there was in fandom at the time. Edited by Gordon Roxburgh, the 1983 CT maintained the same look throughout the year and was home mostly to news, longer departmental columns, shorter headlines and zillions of fanzine adverts. Averaging 6- 8 pages per issue ensured each was packed with material. The January issue was Gordon’s first as editor and means both the DWAS’ publications were helmed by Scotsmen. The year started with some bad news as the last story of season 20 was cancelled due to yet another industrial dispute at the BBC. At that moment there was no certainty even that `The Kings Demons` would be able to be completed (don’t say anything….). 

Inside, the co-ordinator David Saunders talks of plans for the year including a reference to an event called Tacecon. What? And how do you pronounce it? Is it perhaps pronounced Tacky Con? Mmm, well history records this event never happened but I suppose we’ll get to that later in the year. Amongst the fanzine ads this issue are issue 16 of Vortex looking at `The Space Museum`, writer’s pseudonyms and the Brigadier. Its only 40p! The second issue of `Delta Magna` and `Invengos Times` (two for one?) would be yours for just 30p plus an S.A.E. In case you’re not old enough to remember this was a practice when you sent for something and included an empty envelope addressed to yourself with a stamp on it. Remembering of course not to seal it! What sounds like a bumper issue includes Target updates, a look at Morbius and the sonic screwdriver. This is a very wordy ad actually and I wonder how many copies it sold. For the considerably larger sum of 95p you could have issue 16 of `Frontier Worlds`. This zine always had clever, cheeky ads and this time they won’t tell you what’s in the issue. By then of course FW was like the Marks and Spencer of fanzines so people bought it anyway. Issue one of `Metebelis` is `only` 75p and has the bonus of a Graham Williams interview.  Incidentally it cost £3.50 for a CT ad that was 80 x 195 rising to £20 for 280 x 390 which was presumably a full page.

By the February edition the strike was over and – joy of joys- `The Kings Demons` had been made. Everybody; “We sing in praise of total war….” Elsewhere news includes the presence of pop star Leeeeeeee John in `Enlightenment` and the fact that Terrance Dicks will be writing the anniversary special. There’s also news of the Longleat convention and that anyone who went to Interface 2 would know that Patrick Troughton would be amongst the guests at the anniversary shindig. While he appeared at a number of US events, the second Doctor showing up for a Uk event was rare.
It seems there’s been a controversy about whether or not the DWAS should advertise itself which is addressed in the Co-ordinator’s Corner. Though he claims the Society does do publicity David Saunders also suggests that the exec may struggle to cope with a huge influx of members when they have a stall at the Longleat event. Perhaps the Reference department’s David Howe would be more welcoming of new members as he seems to have lots to Plotlines to sell. Not his own plotlines you understand but synopses of previous stories and seasons. That’s what the Ref Dept was for really and out of everything the DWAS did back then this seems the most anomalous to us nowadays. If you want to find out about `Ambassadors of Death` today all you need to do is Google it; in 1983 there was no such source so fan publications would bridge that gap.

Some however just wanted to have fun like Andrew Thompson’s `Doctor Who Bumper Fun Book` advertised this issue. Describing itself as “satirical nonsense” the zine encourages us to “chortle” at the secret of the Daleks and “snigger” at the Brigadier’s Fun Page. Meanwhile `Ark in Space issue 7 was celebrating, er, `Ark in Space`, Cygnus Alpha` issue 8 asks `Earthshock`- was it a classic? It also included Paul Cornell with a regular column, convention reviews and Denis Richardson’s Alpha Emission column. On the back page of this CT is a list of all the local groups the DWAS had at that time- 20 of them in fact-, you can vote in the Fanzine Awards plus there’s an editorial in which Gordon Roxburgh describes `Arc of Infinity` as “a brilliant start to the season”. “I was especially pleased,” he continues, “to see that the special effects in this story were very convincing…” It doesn’t look as if he is being sarcastic either. Perhaps the Ergon looked better in 1983!

“Tom Declines Special” is the big headline in March and I remember this was something of a downer at the time. I’ve always wondered too if it’s his lack of involvement that led to the resulting episode containing so many characters with not enough time to do them justice. Anyway there’s plenty of news about the production including Richard Hurndall taking on the role of the first Doctor and the return of Elisabeth Sladen. Meanwhile Tom will be appearing at the Longleat event along with Peter Davison and Jon Pertwee. Inside- and ahead of the expected Longleat `surge` - it seems membership of the society has risen since the start of the year- 65 new members in fact taking the overall total to 1,200. That may not seem a lot yet consider how many envelopes being sealed and stamps being licked it involves! 

The March issue is thin on content but there are plenty of fanzine adverts including the grandly titled Volume Three Number Three of `Skaro`. For your 70p – plus SAE of course- you’ll get stuff about missing episodes (I always wanted someone to do a gag where they announce an article on missing episodes and the page is blank!), an in depth look at Romana’s character and some fiction called `The Argument of Tyrants`. 55 pence would get you issue 2 of `Dynatrope` wherein you’d discover a review of the Cinderella panto (this is relevant as it was staged by JNT and included Who alumni), reviews of the pilot episode and also `Ark in Space`, a comic strip and an account of a visual effects lecture by Peter Logan. This contents is fairly typical of a well mixed issue from editor Robert Franks. Issue 3 of `Aggedor` includes reviews of `Arc of Infinity`, `Four to Doomsday` and `Snakedance` as well as a Q&A with Janet Fielding, rare photos and a look at Jon Pertwee’s final season. All for 60p. `Underworld` issue 5 has cast lists (people liked them back in the day) and transcripts of Lalla Ward’s Swap Shop appearance. 50p for that bundle while 70p buys you the first issue of `The Leisure Hive` which includes photos of Sarah Sutton on location, though presumably nobody else! `Eye of Horus` edited by Kev Swann was always a class zine and debuts this month more or less topping everyone by having a Tom Baker interview as well as a feature on changes in Dalek design and a look at season 19s monsters. All for 60p!

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